I was lying on the couch, recovering from minor surgery when Ruffian died. I think we all remember where we were that day. When I told my mother, “She’s going to die” she did not believe me, or maybe she didn’t want to. As it was I sat up all night to hear the news and wept by myself at the kitchen table when the inevitable announcement came over the radio.
Ruffian’s dam, Shenanigans, was the second-named Reine-de-Course circa 1991-early 1992. We later expanded this wonderful family on back to Erin and beyond – all the way back to Belle Rose. The family deserved it, even if it did tend to be a little soft from time to time.
It wasn’t just Ruffian. Icecapade’s best son, Izvestia, died before going to stud, many thought Private Terms was none too sound; Coronado’s Quest had mental quirks. The family gave one pause as to its toughness, but never its quality.
And now we have Orb. Not since Paul Mellon won the Derby with Sea Hero has such long standing connections (in this case Stuart Janey III and Dinny Phipps) who have given so much to racing won a Derby. Phipps had Personal Ensign who begat a son (Our Emblem) who got a Derby winner in War Emblem. The Janneys had not only a Triple Crown winning filly in Ruffian but also a sire, Icecapade, who got a Canadian Triple winner in the aforementioned Izvestia. But the Derby eluded both until now.
If these things come in threes, and you love Orb, you better hope he doesn’t win a Triple Crown because this family seems to have a problem keeping them alive after that. And Orb is, after all, inbred to Mr. Prospector.
Shenanigans has never deserved an update more than she does right now, so we are hereby naming her daughter Laughter and Laughter’s daughter Steel Maiden, as Reines-de-Course.
Steel Maiden is not only the second dam of Orb, but her daughter Women’s Rights (a ¾ sister to Lady Liberty, dam of Orb) is the second dam of Suggestive Boy (ARG) who is both an Argentine champion and a G1 winner (Frank E. Kilroe Mile) in the U. S. Ironically, Suggestive Boy (ARG) is by the Phipps bred Easing Along, a Storm Cat out of Easy Goer’s full sister Cadillacing. (Easy Goer was second to Sunday Silence in the Derby in Phipps’ colors before spoiling his arch rival’s Triple Crown hopes in the Belmont).
There is a chill down one’s spine when Ruffian’s silks fly high aboard a family member, especially when the top line belongs to Bold Ruler, as it did with her. Her sire, Reviewer, broke down in training three times and finally once and for all at the farm. Malibu Moon, sire of Orb, also broke down in training but we have no idea if he could have been rehabilitated to run again since nobody does that anymore with a hot sire prospect.
We don’t wish Orb anything but the best as he goes for – sigh, yet again, another Triple Crown. Of course it would be nice to see one. But it will not be good for the breed if a Mr. Prospector inbred pulls it off because it will put the seal, once and for all, on this unsound practice.
Think about it. Who do you breed him to?
For Ruffian to be truly immortalized, Orb will have to be bred to mares free of Raise a Native blood. Lines like Private Terms and Icecapade are naturals, not to mention other Erin lines like Irish Castle, Green Forest and Demons Begone.
We want to have those chills again that Ruffian inspired but we don’t want to have the wrong kind of chills, the kind we felt when we knew she had no chance. If Orb is bred to Raise a Native inbreds it will be worse in its own way than losing Ruffian – because the ever more fragile Thoroughbred will himself be closer to an end.
Additional information about Shenanigans can be found under Erin